Rewarding Stupidity

by Steve on May 5, 2010

A while back I posted regarding a table-saw lawsuit that awarded $1.5 million to Carlos Osorio who sustained a horrible but all too common hand injury while ripping flooring. The jury decided that Ryobi and its parent were liable since they marketed the saw without the new flesh detecting technology now being sold by SawStop. (Note: SawStop, founded by the inventor of the technology in question, is the only saw manufacturer to offer the added protection of a computer controlled blade brake.)

Turns out that Carlos was using the saw with the blade guard and splitter removed. Furthermore, he was ripping material (cutting lengthwise) without the rip fence installed to guide the cut – he was free-handing it (pun intended). When the blade jammed, he stopped the saw, cleared debris from around the blade, switched the saw back on and pushed harder resulting in a slip and the predictable result.

Personal responsibility be damned. This is the equivalent of driving the wrong way on a one-way street while texting at night with your lights off. Something bad is going to happen. Shifting $1.5 million worth of blame to the manufacturer for what is clearly operator negligence is simply unjust. The fact remains that it is virtually impossible to protect idiots from themselves. Natural selection or culling of the weak-minded is nature’s way of cleansing the gene pool. And we all know it’s not nice to fool Mother Nature.

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